Final Cut plugin: Text crawl

In which I provide an improved text crawl effect for Final Cut range of applications.

I created this plugin in response to a question in Larry Jordan’s monthly Final Cut Pro newsletter. Someone pointed out that the Text Crawl generator built into Final Cut Pro had a limit on how much text in can move across the screen.

[Note that generators aren’t limited to a 2 minute duration. If you change the duration in the Viewer before you add them to the timeline, they can be any length.]


As well as removing the text limitation, I added more features: shadow, background and animation controls.


Controls: section by section


If the font you want to use doesn’t appear in the font menu, you can type its name in the ‘Other’ field. See a previous post for methods of finding the exact name of the font you want to use.

Note that the plugin will ignore any font you then choose using the menu until you delete the name of the font named in the ‘Other’ field.


If you set the Shadow Offset to 0 and set a value for Shadow Spread, your text is outlined.


The Text baseline ranges from 0 (the top of the screen) to 100 (the bottom). The Solid Height and offset give control over the size of the background of the text. If the Solid Horizontal % is 100, there is no gradient fill. The Gradient Centre ranges from 0 (the left of the screen) to 100 (the right of the screen).


As well as animating the text so that it is all animated across the screen over the duration of the generator (Method ‘From In to Out’), you can also keyframe the ‘% Complete’ value (see this post for how to do this), or set the speed of the text to a specific number of pixels per second.

The Shadow settings can produce results like this:
…using these settings for Shadow Angle, Softness and Spread:

Here’s a demo video:

Note that this plugin does not stop you from choosing terrible colour combinations for text, shadow and background colour.

Download Alex4D Crawl
Download: Alex4D Crawl.

Copy the ‘Alex4D Crawl.fcfcc’ file into one of two places on your computer:

Your Startup HD/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Pro System Support/Plugins
Your Startup HD/Users/your name/Library/Preferences/Final Cut Pro User Data/Plugins/

(Your Startup HD/Users/your name/Library/Application Support/Final Cut Express Support/Plugins for Final Cut Express users)

Restart Final Cut, and you’ll see the generator in the ‘Text’ section of ‘Video Generators’

Visit my Final Cut home for more plugins and tips

  1. Marc said:

    Thanks very much for this plug-in. Very much appreciated

  2. Tom Fraser said:

    Thanks for an easy to use straight forward plugin, it’s just what the doctor ordered.
    I wonder though if I am doing something wrong.
    As the text glides across the screen the letters break slightly into horizontal tears. When at a stand still the letters are perfectly formed.

    • Alex said:

      Tearing will happen if the speed the text has to move very quickly – especially on interlaced sequences. If you slow it down, the tearing should reduce.

  3. b said:

    thanks so much
    in a dv pal workspace i have to render your crawl any way around this like fcp’s realtime crawl?

    • Alex said:

      No. Only Apple can take a plugin and bless it as real-time. This plugin is slower – but better!

  4. I tried opening Andy’s Text and Alex-4D crawl and got message saying wrong type.

    What to do, what to do?


    • Alex said:

      You need to follow the instructions to install them in the plugins folder on your computer. Opening these files does not install them.

  5. Aubrey said:

    Hey Alex.

    Thanks for the plug-in. It works great.

    I am doing a TEXT crawl, that crawls from LEFT, but I desire it to pause in the center of the screen or path it is crawling, near the end and remain still until the effect is over.

    • Alex said:

      Change the animation method to ‘% complete’ – set a keyframe of 0% at the start and 50% at the middle of the generator.

  6. Hi. Thanks for the plug-in. I ran up against a limit immediately. 2310 characters, and then the rest appear piled up on top of each other. This happens whether I choose method: From In to Out or method: Speed. The plug-in is installed. Thanks.

    • Alex said:

      The character limit applies per line of source text. If you insert a ‘return’ in the source before the 2310th character, then the limit will increase. Although you may have had returns in the source application (the place where you copied your source text from), you need to insert extra returns in the plugin controls window itself.

      • Ah! Ok. I’ll try this. Thanks!

  7. Jay Ashton said:

    Hi, this looks great. But I also notice your crawling text is not blurry at all! Even the fast FCP render at the start of the video. How did you achieve it?! I’ve de-interlaced, tried progressive but it’s still barely readable. If you pause the video, it’s crisp and clear. It’s just when the movie’s playing it’s not. All I want to do is up to YouTube. Thanks again!

    • Alex said:

      The readability of crawling text depends on many things. These can be divided into two things: firstly, the design choices you have to do with typeface, type size, colour, background for the text and speed. Also however good things look in Final Cut, you need to choose the correct settings for compression so that online video services don’t mess up your movies. They’re designed primarily to make video look good, the low-bandwidth codecs aren’t optimised to deal with moving text.

      I assume that the design phase is the problem here. All my plugin does is animate text using the settings you specify. The slower the text is moving, the larger the text is, the more contrast compared with the background, the easier it will be to read. Unfortunately there’s no real way for my plugin to make the majority of settings combinations look great. I wish I could make it work like that.

  8. Mark said:

    Nice plugin. Except, I am having similar problems to John Muse. I have about 800 characters that I need to crawl for 2:40 minutes. I don’t know what settings to use or what to do to prevent the text from “piling on top of each other” at the end. Any suggestions?

  9. Kees said:

    Thanks Alex for your nice plugin. I have a question. I can’t make the text crawl longer then 1 minute and 5 sec. Do I do something wrong? Is it also possible to make a loop so that the text starts again? I want to put the text under the complete movie without any gaps. Thanks for your answers.

  10. Luca Colarelli said:

    Hi Alex, Why I can’t change the duration in the viewer window? there’s always the 2min limit. I’m doing something wrong?
    Thanx a lot

    • Alex said:

      Set the duration to any value before you add the generator to the timeline. Go to the viewer, choose Text Crawl from the generators pop-up menu. Immediately enter a long duration in the field in the top left of the viewer, you can set a value such as 01:00:00:00. This sets the maximum duration of the generator. Once you add it to the timeline, you can make it shorter.

  11. Ben said:

    Thank you so much! Speed control just saved my life!

  12. Paul said:

    Hi Alex,

    I’m working on a project that involves using a lot of characters (3,500) running across screen for approx 10 minutes….I’ve encountered a problem like John Muse above…So i did what you suggested by inserting ‘return’ within the text through your plug in— it works (words stop piling up) However, now the text after the return is not in line with text before the return…I’ve set text baseline at 50..and i’ve also tried to animate it (text baseline 50 at 00.00.00 and at 10.00.00) but still i have the same problem…any suggestions would be greatly appreciated

    Kind regards,


    • Alex said:

      As a test I’ve created an hour long crawl with 20,000 words in 9 point Lucida Grande – all the text looks fine.

      What font, type size and animation method are you using?

      • Paul said:

        Hey Alex,

        Thank you very much for the reply….

        Font : Hoefler text, Size 36 …and with reagrds to animation method i’m not sure exactly what you mean(Sorry!)…Originally I Just inserted the Characters directly into controls/text….however they were then piling up at the end…Then I tried the ‘return’ method…However when i did this all characters after ‘return’ appeared a little bit below the characters before ‘return’…it was at this point that i tried to animate all of the characters using text baseline animation (50 at beginning/50 at end of clip) in the hope of keeping them all on the same ‘line’ but i still have the problem in that the characters after ‘return’ are not in line with everything else…also there is no indication within the control section that anything is different….I hope that makes sense…if it is possible and it would make it easier i can send you screen grabs…..

        Thanks again for taking the time to reply, (And for a very helpful plug-in….ultimately i will be trying to have 8 separate lines of text)

        Kind regards,


      • Paul said:

        Hey Alex,

        I think i have resolved the problem…By clicking ‘Spaceing + Kernin’ it now seems to work and i am running 8 lines (over 40,000 characters across the screen over 19 minutes)…Thanks for a great plug-in,



  13. jay said:

    Thank you very much alex! your plugin is far quicker than animating separate PS pngs! just the job, thanks again . .

  14. JOSE V. said:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: